So. Now that I no longer work for Small Mom and Pop EMS, I thought it’d be nice to share my experiences ie: my last few months there. My supervisor asked me ever so politely to jump on the other side of the radio, temporarily of course, as they had just fired our night dispatcher. Mind you, I didn’t mind the pay cut… I needed a break from the roads and the hour and half commute to my new station.
Thus started my adventure on the other side of the radio. I made a REALLY weird video to go with it. I’ll post it at the end, I suppose if I can find it. I digress. I started dispatching and IMMEDIATELY hated it. There was no honeymoon period, or early marriage stages. I wanted a divorce and quickly. This was like a Britney Spears “oopsy” marriage in Vegas sort of deal. Granted, I was able to go home every night and sleep… and only most nights I had nightmares of post assignments and late doctor’s appointments… the other nights I drank myself into a dreamless slumber. Kidding- I don’t have an alcohol problem, I swear. (Only at EMS Conferences, ok?) Anyways, it was just as frustrating as I imagined it to be.
My main anxiety with dispatching was having to tell my co-workers, some whom I considered friends and others I just respected or at least tolerated, where to go. These places I sent them were never pleasant. Maybe they had to sit and post while a crew made a LD trip 3 hours away. Yay! You get to sit on the side of the road for a while and try to sleep… until I make you run a call 30 miles away because YOU ARE MY ONLY TRUCK. Oh. There is frustration number two. At Mom and Pop Backwoods service, there were only 3 ambulances that ran 24 hours a day. 1 that ON A GOOD DAY ran from 8-5… depending on who was on it and what they felt like doing. (Usually, my supervisor was on it. Though I like him now in retrospect, I couldn’t STAND him sitting at my desk in dispatch and making my decisions for me. Grrr.) Anyways. I’m digressing again. We had 3 full time trucks. To in the main city, and one 15 minutes out in this tiny city that didn’t run that many calls in my day. Granted, this parish has 3 ambulance services in it. The Borg, MedDeath, and Mom and Pop. So you’re thinking- 911 rotation + 3 services= sleep all night? WRONG. MedDeath may have… The Borg can be sent anywhere in the state so most of the times, at least one of their 2 units was out covering a busier parish, like Lafayette or posting somewhere waiting for the
deathpatcher dispatcher to send them to their fate. So, that being said, Mom and Pop ran.
So, there I am, answering business calls, routing bill payers and dodgers to the billing department, taking emergency calls, sending ambulances out, writing down call times manually, and calling my units for updates because of course, we didn’t have unit tracking. Oh… and posting my poor crews to sketchy gas stations that were midway, or of course the creepy graveyard. Both were options. I… I am a medic. I didn’t WANT to understand what happened on the other side of the radio. I wanted to be blissfully unaware and just gripe about my assignment to PushEmDown Nursing Home at 3 am for ANOTHER fall. I wanted to believe dispatch was out to make me miserable. I wanted to believe they all had magic 8 balls and were pulling us at random to run crappy calls.
Now? I can’t gripe. Now that I’m at the Borg and things are a bit more complicated than just 3 ambulances in a region per dispatcher… I can’t complain when I get sent to post at the Wallace bridge. I know that the dispatcher, no matter how sinister the reputation may be, is probably struggling for coverage. The last thing he wants to hear is back talk. I remember hearing a unit gripe about post assignment and call me “A Terror.” (Please folks, remember to not sit on your radio!!) When I had an LD that night at 2 am- I had a choice. The crew that brought me lunch… and the crew that called me a Terror. Guess who I sent? Bye Bye, mean crew. YOU are a terror.
So folks, remember… your dispatcher, who may sound like a crazed psychotic lunatic most of the time, is a person just like you. Sometimes they make mistakes. (I’ve pointed that out to Borg management recently. They always say “Dispatch is God.” I always come back with- I was a dispatcher and I know differently!) Sometimes, you are for real the only truck available for post. Sometimes, you’re just up for a call. This is EMS. Eat when you can. Pee… and erm… other things… when you can. By all means, sleep when you can! When your shift is other, bid your dispatcher a good day (or night) and go home and take care of yourself. At the end of the shift, that’s all that matters.
More The Other Side of the Radio rants to come.